When parents divorce or are involved in a paternity action, it is common that one parent must relocate out of the immediate area. The logistics of promoting continuing contact with both parents are far more complex when hundreds or even thousands of miles separate the homes of parents in a Florida child custody dispute. Nonetheless, many times a parent has a legitimate need to relocate for financial or educational reasons.
A parent is not allowed to relocate the minor child(ren) more than fifty miles from the child’s residence without notice to the other parent and approval by the court. The court will consider a number of factors in determining whether to allow the parent to relocate with the minor child.
Florida’s virtual visitation laws provide a way for the non-moving parent to communicate with his or her child(ren) when the court approves such a move.
With advancements in technology, parents have recently possessed the tools to help ease the burden of facilitating communication between the child and the parent who resides long distance. “Virtual visitation” is one tool that appears to be widely used when a child does not reside in reasonable proximity to the non-moving parent. Virtual visitation involves the use of communication technology, such as Skype, Facebook, instant messaging, video chat and similar communication tools to facilitate continuing communication and contact. Although the laws in Florida acknowledge that virtual visitation or electronic communication is not intended to completely substitute in-person contact, it provides a mechanism to ease the burden on children and non-moving parents in Florida parental relocation cases. However, the courts in Florida “may not consider the availability of electronic communication as the sole determinative factor when considering relocation.” § 61.13003(6), Florida Statutes.
Florida is on the cutting-edge of this new trend in using electronic communication to facilitate contact between a parent and a minor child. Florida is one of only six states that currently have a statute that specifically provides for this form of electronic visitation. However, this is an emerging trend in addressing the issue of frequent and continuing contact for both parents in the face of parental relocation cases.
While video telephone calls on Skype and ongoing texting messaging dialogs are not a perfect solution, they do offer a more extensive form of communication than traditional phone calls and letters. If you are a parent that needs to relocate with your child or a parent objecting to the relocation of your child’s home, experienced South Florida parental relocation attorney James S. Cunha and his legal team understand the complexity and challenges faced in parental relocation cases. We work diligently to preserve the parent-child relationship our clients share with their children.
Our South Florida child custody law firm is available to represent clients in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also offer effective legal representation to clients who reside in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Hendry, Broward, and Miami-Dade in child custody and parental relocation matters.